Cute Girls, Tough Boys

Performing Gender in Algerian Manga

in European Comic Art

This article explores the way in which masculinity and femininity are constructed in Algerian manga, an emerging, understudied sub-genre within the field of Algerian graphic art. Through the exploration of youth-oriented publications of shōjo and shōnen manga, I will demonstrate how these new local works offer a privileged form of expression for and platform to address disaffected Algerian youths. The primary focus of this investigation will be the differences (or lack thereof) between ideals of gender performances as expressed in Algerian manga and ideals of gender identity in society at large. This article will demonstrate that, while some differences manifest a desire for change on the part of both artists and readers, they certainly do not constitute radical revisions of the popular Algerian notions of masculinity and femininity. Ultimately, this study will demonstrate the limits of manga as an imported genre within an Arab-Islamic context, oscillating between the promulgation of alternative social ideals and the reinforcement of social norms.

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